Dear Proper Green,
I’m spending Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. I can’t wait for her amazing cooking, and there will be A LOT of it. Is it alright to ask to take some home, so it doesn’t go to waste? I don’t want to be rude and awkward in the name of preventing a little food waste.
-Abbey, Pittsburgh, PA
Visiting family always seems to highlight lifestyle differences. Your question reminds me of the time I found my father sifting through my uncle’s garbage can during my cousin’s graduation party. While everyone else was partying, Dad was standing by the trash picking recyclables out of the bin — he was up to his elbows in wing sauce and half-eaten casseroles, in search of soda cans and cardboard boxes. The trashcan was just a few feet away from where everyone was partying, and much to his own surprise, he was not being discreet.
Do you already feel less awkward asking for leftovers? ;) No matter how well intentioned your actions may be, there’s always the risk of making a situation awkward — but probably not as awkward as your dad being mistaken for a neighborhood vagrant.
Bring some of your own food storage containers, and after the meal, offer to help clean up. Ask what your sister’s plans are for the leftovers, and let her know you’re more than happy to take some home if she thinks some of the leftovers will go to waste otherwise. Chances are, she’ll be relieved that she won’t have to eat turkey morning, noon, and night for a week straight. Plus, the offer doesn’t come across as rude, and you get to actively help her waste less food. Go for it!